A Year in Seoul - video by Maddy

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I smile and the universe smiles back.

On Friday afternoon, life is great. It was my school's gym festival so there were no classes for the day. I seized the opportunity to have a Thursday night get together for all the new teachers who have arrived in Gunpo. Long story short, I ended up drinking a few too many beers and getting three hours of sleep. Not to worry, it's nothing a hot shower and an Americano can't cure. I was even early to work.

When I first arrived I was sad because I wasn't wearing a track suit and sun visor like the other teachers. I quickly got over it when I realized that my only duty for the day was to sit in the sun while my students fed my chocolate, gave me massages and told me I was pretty (love my job!) I even got a little tan until my co-teacher pulled me out of the sun and sent me to sit with the old Korean ladies under a tent.

The gym festival is quite the event. The teachers have been planning it for months and the kids have been practicing for a few weeks. Each grade performs a dance and competes in relay races and other events. The school is divided into two teams, white and blue, who compete for the highest total score. Friday was labor day in Korea so all the parents and grandparents showed up to cheer and take pictures. I especially loved the parents who ran next to their kids during the relays, just in case their kid managed to forget what to do. The parents even ran races and played tug of war. One of the dads wiped out during a race - it's no joke!

You can't beat the dances though. There is nothing like watching 5th grade boys shake pom poms to the beat of "Oh Mickey You're so Fine" to soothe the soul.

After the games we had a big lunch with all sorts of special treats (even beer!) My principal wanted me to drink a can of beer, but as soon as I heard the word I had a flash back to the night before that involved me yelling "I'm so good at chugging beer!" and then proceeding to try and prove it. I decided to abstain.

The best part was when at 2 pm my co-teacher told me I could go home. As I walked home in the sunshine, the air around me the absolute perfect temperature, I was feeling what I can only describe as euphoria. And it was only going to get better. Next stop, Taipei....

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